ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Blacks, Unions, & Organizing in the South, 1956-1996


Compiled by Rudolph Lewis



SCLC & Hospital Workers

Hospital Workers RALLY ‘Up South’

by Joshua Watson

Baltimore Afro-American

August 16, 1969


            Enthusiasm wasn’t dampened, despite the absence of SCLC (Southern Christian leadership Conference) president, Ralph David Abernathy, at a rally for Baltimore hospital workers at the Emerson Hotel this week.

            300 cheering hospital workers welcomed the rev. Bernard Lee, an executive of SCLC, and heard him say that “the chairman of SCLC called a meeting of the board in Charleston, S.C., and that is why the Reverend couldn’t be here tonight.

            “He sent me in his place.”

            The elated workers heard Mr. Lee declare that “Baltimore is one of the most broken down cities in America. As black folk we helped build this country. We are going to stand up like proud people and not beg.

            “We live down south, you live up south . . . as we carry on in Charleston, you must carry on in Baltimore . . .


we won a wonderful victory in Charleston . . . after 100 days we were able to win union recognition and bargaining power with the hospitals there. . . . This is what we call ‘soul’ power. . . .

            “I may be black but I am somebody. . . . repeat after me, union power, union power. We are going to sock it to Baltimore. . . . We are going to tear down the walls of injustice in Baltimore.”

            Other speakers who supported the hospital union said: “Hospital workers have been the most notoriously exploited of blacks in the city. . . .unionize or stay dehumanized. . .if you don’t vote you are a dope. . . In union there is strength and, by golly, we need strength.” –Parren Mitchell.

            “It is a sad story that a lot of people haven’t caught the spirit of unionization.

            “Brother Nixon’s proposal for curing welfare and poverty doesn’t even began to start. How do you expect a man in this rising economy to live on $1,600 a year? How in the world can a man raise a family in dignity when he doesn’t have it himself?

            “I want to know if you have any soul this evening. Get with it or get out.

            “Aunt Janes, Nervous Nellies, and Uncle Toms: the whites have them continuing to divide the blacks. We have got to stand together and speak with one tongue.

            “If you need us in Baltimore, we will come and turn it upside down and right side up again. We are not only black and beautiful but we have some sense.”

            Via modern telephone hook-up to Charleston, the workers heard the voice of Mr. Abernathy say “physically I am in Charleston, spiritually my mind is miles away in Baltimore. . . . in the big cities of the north.”

            Mrs. Willa Turman, Johns Hopkins Hospital employee: “Whenever a promotion was available, management passed us by. . . . Hospital workers will no longer settle for second-class citizenship. . . . We know now better than ever that only the strong survive.”

            Mrs. Mary Bell, Lutheran Hospital employee: “Boss said you will be fired if you take part in union activity. . . . They may kill the dreamer, but they will not kill the dream.”

            Miss Flora MacNair, North Charles General Hospital employee: “We are the victims of these circumstances. . . we have the skills and qualifications to succeed.”

            Troy Brailey, Maryland House of Delegates: “People working in hospital forty years don’t get any money when they retire. . . . what seniority rights do you have? None.”

            Miss Doris Turner, national vice-pres. of Local 1199: “In July, ’66, w, the hospital workers in New York, signed a contract with a minimum wage of $100 a week for hospital workers. . . . several years ago we were paid $32 a week.

            “If you love the boss vote NO; if you love yourselves vote YES. . . .  we are going to stop singing we shall overcome and sing: we have overcome.”

            Organization of non-professional workers at Johns Hopkins, Lutheran, and North Charles General Hospital have been going on for several months by Local 1199E.

            Local 1199E’s program include minimum wages of $100 a week, job classification program, job training and upgrading, pension plan, grievance procedure, full seniority rights, and other benefits.

            Voting will take place by secret ballot Aug. 22 at Lutheran, Aug. 28 and 29 at Hopkins, and Sept 5 at North Charles General Hospital.

            Fred Punch, Area Director of Local 1199E: “We have come a long way in Baltimore. . . . an injury to one is an injury to all. . . . if we can crack Johns Hopkins, this Goliath, this monster of all the hospitals in Baltimore, the other hospitals will fall. . . if any of the big shots in the hospital were compelled to live on our salaries, they would choke on their lies.”

            Elliot Godoff, National Director, Organizing Committeeof Hospital and Nursing Home Employees: “Before the union came they didn’t know you had arrived. . . . I don’t believe there is going to be a strike in Baltimore because they are afraid of you. . . . There are more talents, more brains that go to waste because of discrimination in the hospitals.”

            John Lorden, Acting Regional Dir. of AFL-CIO: “You can’t get into a hospital under $45 a day. . . . I wonder how management can keep paying slave-labor wages to employees of the hospital.”

posted 24 July 2008

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

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#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

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#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

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#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

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#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. —Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong.

We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.   Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 27 May 2012




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